The Plane of Karma
Updated: Jul 18
All the masters possessed a thorough understanding of the true nature of karma. They knew that for the vast majority of people born onto this earthly plane it was their karma that necessitated such a birth. Moreover, they also knew that karmic birth onto this plane was by its very nature replete with challenges and trials. For most people, it brings with it a host of predictable predicaments—predicaments that are in no way easy to navigate through.
The earthly plane of existence is the plane of human karma. It is a plane wherein our karma can be expressed in outward demonstration. It is also a plane where we are sure to meet a resounding chord of inherent environmental obstacles. That is why life on the earthly plane has such a rough edge to it. Clearly, it is not the Garden of Eden, where all was pristine, pure, and beautiful. It is not an environment where we can just rest, enjoy and receive our sustenance from already growing plants and trees. It does not have a climate that allows us to be naked and never feel bodily discomfort. It is not a place where we can live without taking thought for our safety and security. Instead life on this plane dictates that we eat our bread by the sweat of our brow. It necessitates that we work the land in order to bring forth its fruitful yield. It requires that we clothe and house ourselves from extremes of climate and protect ourselves from predators and dangers of all sorts. Just the fact that roughly half of our time here is spent in the near total darkness of night presents formidable obstacles for us. Then when you add to this mix the sometimes harmful and destructive effects of creatures such as insects and rodents, it is no wonder that most people view life on earth as hard and toilsome. In truth, the earthly plane is perfect, as is all of creation. But its perfection can only be understood in the light of its created mandate and purpose as the plane of karma.
All of the earthly plane’s environmental obstacles complement our karmic outworking. It might even be said that they cause a sort of piling-on effect, so that we sometimes feel so overwhelmed with challenges that we want to scream. But it is really our own karma that dictates the hard edge to life on this plane. Why is this? Because human karma tends to be pretty messy. In fact, it can turn our lives into a veritable quicksand pool of suffering. Of course, most people do not recognize this about karma. Rather they most often attribute their suffering to outside oppositional forces.
So what is it about this powerful agent of cause and effect that we call karma? Where does it come from, and how does it play out in our lives?
The teaching of the masters pertaining to karma is quite a bit more intricate and complex than what is commonly believed. Most of us have been taught that our karma is a carry-over from past lives, in which we sometimes behaved in less than admirable ways. In other words, our karma is like unfinished business from past lives that we are confronted with in this life in order to make things right and become a better person. But this is, in truth, a simplistic and naïve viewpoint.
While it is true that our karma is carried over from past lives lived on the earthly plane, these are not its source. Neither is our present karma necessarily linked to the bad deeds we have done. In actuality, human karma is a collective phenomenon. It is not nearly as individualized, as we tend to believe. Flippantly, we say, “That’s my karma being played out,” or, “he has lots of bad karma.” This kind of thinking implies that some people have worse karma than others. But the truth of the matter is that if we are living on the earthly plane of existence we all have the same karma. And that collective karma is what landed us here in the first place. It is the fact that we have karma at all that decided our fate, not the degree of our individual wrongdoing in past lives. Thus every human being living on this plane is here because they have karma, and it matters little if this or that person has better or worse karma.
And so we come to understand that the source of our karma predates any particular human incarnation that we have had because the earthly plane is and always has been the plane of karma. There has never been a time when people without karma inhabited this plane. That is what initiated our association with it, and that is why we have all had multiple births and deaths. There is something that we need to accomplish here, and until we do so we will keep coming back for more.
In the East this predicament is referred to as a cyclical phenomenon that they call the karmic wheel. Once we get on the karmic wheel we are destined to have multiple births onto this plane, not because we create new karma for ourselves but rather because we have yet to accomplish the one thing we need to do here in order to break the karmic cycle. And so it turns out that the purpose for us being born in any lifetime is always the same. It is always to accomplish the work that will break the cycle of births and deaths and liberate us from the karmic wheel. That is why the masters viewed human life on this plane as an opportunity—not an opportunity to get rich or be well respected by our peers but rather an opportunity to free ourselves from our bondage to karma. Each new lifetime presents us with this opportunity at any given moment. All we have to do is to come to our senses, get serious about spiritual life, and stop being so distracted by all that the world dangles before us. Of course, none of this is easy. If it were, we would have gotten off the karmic wheel lifetimes ago.
Not only is the purpose for our being born onto this plane always the same; so is the work we need to do in order to free ourselves. That is why our lives often have a quality of familiarity about them—of “been there, done that.” We have indeed been here before and done this same routine before. Thus we find that this matter of karma is much bigger than we previously thought. It is much bigger than our former flippant view of it. It is, in fact, the entire meaning of life on this plane. For, there is no greater event in the human experience than being released from the karmic wheel once and for all eternity. We also come to understand why the earthly plane environment is as it is. Karma is a spiritual condition that is linked to the evolutionary thrust of human consciousness. And birth onto the earthly plane has been mandated for us because it provides the evolutionary prod needed to take us to the next level of consciousness.
So karma is a spiritual condition shared by each and every person on this plane of existence. In this sense it is a common condition—one that tends to have a common outworking in a human being’s life. Moreover, the work that we need to accomplish in order to break the karmic cycle of births and deaths is also a common work. This means that our global human society is not as diverse and varied as we have been taught. It might be said that we are all in the same boat, no matter where on the planet we live. We are all floating on the same sea of karmic reality.
Our human birth therefore is also a common experience. We have all had it and in many ways we have all had a similar birth experience. For the vast majority of us, our birth onto this plane threw us into a tailspin of unconsciousness and forgetfulness. We not only forgot where we came from and what our purpose for being here is; we also lost sight of who we are as human beings and what we are made of. To put it another way, human birth into a new incarnation wipes the slate clean and causes us to forsake our true identity for a time, which, in turn, makes us highly vulnerable to the cultural conditioning of the world, which then leads to us building a false identity called the ego. All of us have had this experience. Our birth emptied us out so completely that we became almost vacuous inside. Then we instinctively sought to fill that vacuum with something, even if it wasn’t the truth about who we are.
That is, in fact, the main purpose and role of human culture. It originally came into being in order to fill the vacuous space inside karmically bound human beings. And over time this collective human force-field has become very sophisticated and strong. It certainly has the power to overwhelm an emptied-out human infant. So it is that cultural conditioning has also become a common experience for those born onto this plane.
All of these shared experiences have their source in our shared karma. They befall us because of our karmic condition. It was our karma that dictated that we were born onto this plane, and it is our karma that dictates what we will experience here. And because the nature of karma is that it is an unfulfilled, unfinished and unevolved condition, our common earthly plane experience is often characterized by hardship, diversion, and suffering.
Nobody welcomes hardship and suffering into their lives, but there is an even greater problem with this common karmic outworking. It makes it very difficult and challenging for us to attain to the one experience or work that will satisfy the demands of our karma and free us from the cycle of births and deaths. It is hard enough to have to start all over again in each new incarnation, but when the elements of the earthly plane pile on and fill us with many wrong beliefs and ideas via cultural conditioning, it then becomes nearly impossible for us to come to our senses and begin the journey home. That is why most people live out their entire lifetime without even realizing their true identity.
This then brings us to the importance of the testimony and teaching of the masters. For they not only taught that each new incarnation is an opportunity to gain our liberation from the karmic wheel; they also showed us that the only truly important reason for being here is our spiritual work. They showed us the right direction that we need to be moving in, even if we do not attain full liberation in this lifetime.
Our common karmic birth onto this plane results in unconsciousness, forgetfulness, and vulnerability to cultural conditioning. And all this moves us in the wrong direction, if we allow it to. If we follow that wrong direction throughout the duration of our lifetime, not only will this lifetime be wasted in futility but we also will surely have to return to this plane for yet another difficult birth. But if we can change that common direction in midstream and head in the direction that the masters advocated, our opportunity for getting off the karmic wheel once and for all increases exponentially. And because all of this is governed by set universal laws, it is an absolute certainty that if we persist in moving in the right direction and follow it unto its end we will, in fact, be liberated. That is what Jesus meant when he said, “Seek and you will find.” (Matthew 7:7). It is also true that our progress in this right direction is etched incrementally upon our consciousness. So if we do not attain our full liberation in this life, our next birth will find us that much further down the road. That is why it is said that some people have better karma than others. It is not that their karma is different; it is that their progress from past lives has been stored in their consciousness, so that they are born already closer to the goal.
The direction that landed us on the karmic wheel in the first place is, simply put, the direction away from truth. It is the direction towards illusion and futility. It is a direction that takes us away from our true Self and towards an insubstantial illusion. On the other hand, the direction that the masters advocated is the direction that takes us back to our true Self—back to reality and substance; back to God. And interestingly, all of the masters put this direction in the context of a return, thereby intonating that our initial landing on the karmic wheel was a decision on our parts to go out or leave—to leave truth, reality, and God. And so the entire impetus of our earthly experience is one of correction. And correction, in turn, signifies a new evolvement for our consciousness—out from the consciousness of Adam, which is synonymous with karma and into Christ consciousness, which is the consciousness of the masters and all those who have gotten off the karmic wheel.